An aerial view of Cape Town, with Ysterplaat Air Force base. Activists cited Ysterplaat, Wingfield and Youngsfield as having potential to combat Cape Town’s affordable housing crisis. Picture: Sophia Stander/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
An aerial view of Cape Town, with Ysterplaat Air Force base. Activists cited Ysterplaat, Wingfield and Youngsfield as having potential to combat Cape Town’s affordable housing crisis. Picture: Sophia Stander/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Calls to release military sites for affordable housing in Cape Town

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Jun 9, 2021

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Cape Town - The Development Action Group (DAG) along with several land and housing non-governmental organisations and activists are calling for the release of state-owned underutilised military land to address the City’s housing crisis.

DAG hosted a public meeting with land and housing partners yesterday on the three parcels of military land identified for social/ affordable housing: Ysterplaat, Youngsfield and Wingfield, and its potential for development.

Last year, through a joint submission, the land and housing activists groups called for the release of the parcels of land in Cape Town.

“The three pieces of nationally-owned land have the potential to combat Cape Town’s affordable housing crisis and alleviate the most harmful effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has driven many into homelessness.

“By releasing the sites, the national government could make room for up to 67 000 low-income households in Cape Town, answering a decades-long call on the national government to address the gross spatial inequalities in the city,” said Town Planner at Community Organisation Resource Centre, Chadernnay Glenn.

“Our submission shows that allowing this well-located state-owned land to lie fallow or under-utilised is irrational and unreasonable when it could instead be used to meet the housing needs of thousands of low-income households, many of who are living in informal settlements, backyard shacks and other forms of unsafe housing.”

Glenn said the military sites account for almost 680 hectares and is under the custodianship of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.

Legal Resource Centre attorney Anneline Turpin said sites were well-located, in close proximity to various schools, social facilities, police stations, health services and public transport.

“Each site is located approximately 10 km from the Cape Town CBD. The sites are close to existing economic and industrial nodes, offering considerable employment opportunities and implying less money spent on travel – often a disproportionately heavy strain on poor households’ budgets,” said Turpin.

Ndifuna Ukwazi Head of Research and Advocacy Michael Clark said sections of the Consitution (25 and 26) requires that all levels of government address the legacy of spatial apartheid and that legal mechanisms exist in law that would allow for the release of the land for affordable housing, however, is hinged on political will.

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